DIRECTOR Luke Smith
CAST Nathan Fillion, Lance Reddick, Gina Torres, Neil Kaplan
PLOT Alien race The Cabal, led by Dominus
Ghaul (Kaplan), mounts an attack on Earth’s one remaining stronghold, kidnapping the Traveller (the source of your powers) in the process. Your mission: to defeat him and take back the planet.
REMEMBER WHEN THE first Destiny came out, and it was effectively without a plot? Recall how it took a year, until third expansion The Taken King, for developer Bungie to really decide what the game was meant to be? That mistake has been sidestepped this time. Destiny 2 is a fuller, richer and deeper game in every respect, from plot to gameplay mechanics.
Picking up one year after the events of the Rise Of Iron expansion, Destiny 2 begins at the end — as humanity’s final bastion, the Last City, falls before Dominus Ghaul (Kaplan) and his
Red Legion army. It’s an opening salvo that plays like the original game, but it doesn’t last. All the familiar elements are then stripped away in the wake of Ghaul’s conquest of Earth. It’s a choice that works well on two levels, moving the story along for returning players who know the lore, while presenting a gripping beginning for newcomers that doesn’t require them to have ploughed hundreds of hours into the original game.
It also ups the stakes — in Destiny 2’ s main campaign, it feels as if the future of Earth is really and truly on the line in a way that hadn’t come across previously. Best of all, the story is actually in the game this time, rather than being revealed through those obnoxious grimoire cards you had to visit the official website to read.
While the three core character classes — Hunter, Warlock, and Titan — return, new subclasses offer a way to mix up skills and super moves. Warlocks, for instance, retain the original ‘Voidwalker’ subclass, though slightly modified, but gains the new ‘Dawnblade’, with a super move that unleashes shards of devastating light-knives from the air. It’s a nice way to diversify your play style, with wild-card attacks that differ from your core proficiencies.
The world of Destiny 2 impresses, too. From the wilds of Earth beyond the fallen city to space battles of a scale that almost dwarfs the imagination, it’s more imaginative and visually spectacular than anything in the first game.
Post-story, you’ll have a familiar array of Strikes and Crucible missions, expanding the co-op and versus gameplay and accessible from the new social area, the Farm. These feel fairly immaterial at present, but this is Destiny
— expect the variety of content and challenges to expand as the months go by. Thankfully, though, the original post-game’s more onerous tasks have now been done away with, meaning you won’t have to spend countless hours levelling-up new guns or farming Helium on the moon.
However, a few curious changes from the original do rankle. There’s no more free play of story missions, only ‘Meditations’, a curated selection of three missions, playable at a higher level. Your Guardian is now more customisable, with individual armour pieces now repaintable, but the Shaders used to do it are now consumable — and available to buy through microtransactions. Most baffling, Sparrows — the hoverbike vehicles synonymous with the first game — are now random loot drops, making exploring the world slower than is ideal.
Overall, though, Destiny 2 is a delight, improving on the original’s accessibility and storytelling. The already hooked should prepare to pour another few years of their life into this, and prepare to meet a whole slew of enthusiastic newcomers along the way. MATT KAMEN
VERDICT Lessons learnt from the release of the original game, Destiny 2 feels fully formed, even at launch. Epic sci-fi gameplay at its most compelling, it will surely engender another huge following.